Jesus came into the world as the long-awaited Messiah, a title which means “anointed one.” Although, He wasn’t quite what people expected. The Jews were awaiting a king, from David’s family tree, who would free them from Rome’s tyranny. Many expected a warrior king who would be a military leader, but that’s not what Jesus came to do.
Jesus was a spiritual warrior. He was humble, wise, loving, and powerful. Instead of shifting the military landscape, he shook up the spiritual climate. He demonstrated what it meant to really serve and have a close relationship with the one true God. Through Jesus, we too can have a personal relationship with God.
In the Old Testament, Isaiah receives a word from God concerning John the Baptist and the Messiah:
A voice of one calling:
‘In the wilderness prepare
the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert
a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’
The “voice of one calling” is the voice of John the Baptist. John was miraculously conceived by a married couple in their old age, Elizabeth and Zechariah (see Luke 1). Before his birth, an angel tells Zechariah that John, “…will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord,” (Luke 1:17). When the time was right, that’s exactly what John did. He grew up in the wilderness, and when God showed him it was time, John began his ministry, preparing people for Jesus.
The next part of the prophecy tells us what Jesus would do when He came.
Every Valley Shall Be Raised Up
Valleys can be dark places, shielded from the sun. They are also used to describe hard times in life, as In Psalm 23:4a: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me…”
From a battle standpoint, if you’re in a valley, surrounded by an opposing army, that army has the advantage.
When Jesus came, He raised the valleys up to make them level ground—not literally, but metaphorically. He defeated the enemy, which means we don’t need to live in a place of fear, depression, anxiety, or sorrow. In Him, we have victory over the things that try to keep us in the valley. We can walk on level ground, confident in the freedom He’s given us.
“So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36
Every Mountain and Hill Made Low
Mountains are often used to represent obstacles. In Matthew 11:23, Jesus uses mountains to illustrate the power of faith: “Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him.”
A mountain may be sickness, temptation, or distraction. Whatever it may be, through faith, we can overcome and cast the mountain into the sea.
Another way to view mountains is through the eyes of someone taking a journey. In Bible times, they didn’t have cars, so when making a journey, many used boat, foot, or animal. When crossing land, mountains made the journey longer, and perhaps even more treacherous. They were an obstacle between the traveler and their destination.
When Jesus came, He made every mountain low, removing obstacles, so that we the travelers could come to God. He is the way, and through Him, we can have a personal relationship with God.
The Rough Ground Shall Become Level, The Rugged Places a Plain
When Jesus began His ministry, the ground was rough. There were spiritual leaders in the communities who cared more about receiving adoration from people than they did about pleasing God. Jesus came and set a new standard for holiness. He demonstrated that a relationship with God is about knowing God’s heart. It’s about immersing ourselves in His word, loving Him, and loving others. Jesus did only what He saw the Father doing, which were amazing, wonderful things. He healed the sick, opened blind eyes, healed lame men so they could walk, forgave a woman caught in adultery, and so much more.
Jesus came and demonstrated the way to live a holy life, pleasing to God. When He healed and forgave someone of their sins, He instructed them to sin no more. As we follow God, and obey Him, His blessings pour out upon our lives. We open the door for Him to work in our situation. The wonderful life He has for us starts with turning away from our sins and asking forgiveness. Forgiveness is available through Jesus Christ. Only He can set us free to walk out the best life that God has for us.
Through His ministry, Jesus made the rough ground level and the rugged places plain. He overcame our stumbling blocks and made a level path to God.
What Does This Mean?
Sin separates us from God. Prior to Jesus’ coming, people sacrificed animals as blood atonement for their sins. When Jesus died on the cross, He became the perfect sacrifice so we can be reconciled to God. His blood made the ultimate atonement for our sins. Now, the valleys, mountains, and rough places that used to separate us from God, have been overcome. The things that once stood in the way of us understanding His word, have been removed. Through Jesus, we have a straight path to God the Father. We can have a personal, loving relationship with Him. We can hear His voice, talk to Him, and know His word. This wonderful relationship with God is available to everyone, and it starts with accepting Jesus as our Savior. He is the One Who made a way.
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Atonement: “reparation for a wrong or injury” (Google Dictionary)
Reconciliation (Reconcile): “Bringing together of two parties that are estranged or in dispute.” (Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary)
Sin: “an immoral act considered to be a transgression against divine law” (Google Dictionary)
Bible (NIV & NASB versions)
Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (pages 1111 & 1646)